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How B cell depletion protects the brain in MS (Pröbstel Lab)


MRI images of patient with multiple sclerosis (Symbolic image: Adobe Stock)

Researchers from the Universities of Toronto, Mainz, and Basel have discovered a potential novel mechanism by which B cell depletion therapies protect the brain in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

B cell depletion is known to be effective in preventing inflammatory relapses in MS but its impact on brain tissue damage has been unclear. This new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, shows how B cell depletion may safeguard the brain's gray matter and nerve fibers.

“These findings provide evidence that B cell depletion protects gray matter in addition to dampening acute inflammatory activity, and that this effect is mediated by a cytokine named BAFF, a molecule involved in B cell survival and maturation”, explains Prof. Dr. Pröbstel, research group leader at the Departments of Biomedicine and Clinical Research. “Interestingly, BAFF has previously been associated with both protective and pathogenic effects in MS”.

Pröbstel's research team, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jens Kuhle, observed that higher levels of BAFF in relapsing MS patients were associated with absence of disease progression independent of relapse activity. These findings suggest a previously unknown neuroprotective role for BAFF in the context of B cell depletion therapy.

This research offers valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of B cell depletion. It also paves the way for further exploration of the immune mechanisms contributing to the neuroprotective role of BAFF in MS.

Congratulations to all the contributors for this excellent work!

Original Publication